What have you been putting off? Almost all of us delay necessary actions from time to time. I’m convinced that procrastination is one of the biggest causes of stress in our lives. There is something in your life that you know needs to get done. Often, it’s not even something difficult. But you’ve made it difficult in your mind, and as a result you never get started. Instead, you do everything else you can think of—wash dishes, organize your files, surf the Internet, check e-mail—rather than the thing you actually need to do. Perhaps you’re even procrastinating right now. It drains your energy and wastes precious time. “Procrastination is the bad habit of putting off until the day after tomorrow what should have been done the day before yesterday,” Napoleon Hill once said.

I challenge you to focus your energy and just do what needs to be done. There are two antidotes to procrastination:

1. Drop the goal or project, and don’t do it.

2. Exercise some discipline, and just go ahead and do it.

Sometimes procrastination is a sign that you don’t want or need to do the thing you’re dreading, in which case Option 1 is a good choice (this does not apply to filing taxes, paying bills, or picking kids up from school, of course!). At other times, procrastination is a sign of perfectionism, stubbornness, or lack of self-discipline, all of which you have the power to change. If this is the category you relate to, Option 2 is your best choice. Don’t make the task or project a big deal. Break it into smaller pieces and just get started.

So what is it that you need to do? Don’t wait for inspiration—just start! You don’t have to feel like doing something to do it. Often, in the process of starting, your mood develops. And even if it doesn’t, the feeling of relief after completing a project you’ve been dreading is well worth it.